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3. 4.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 102/67

4. recyclability: the proportion of scrap steel used in the manufacture of stainless steel is about 80%, and the
product is 100% recyclable;
5. ecological: stainless steel products do not present any risk to the environment;
6. supply: there would be no problems with regard to the production of the euro coins (c. 300 000 tonnes).

What are the initiatives and reasons which have narrowed down the choice so far to coins containing copper or
copper alloys and completely ruled out the use of stainless steel, which is a typically European product (with
Europe accounting for 44% of world output)?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2596/97 and E-2650/97
(10 November 1997)

On 5 June 1997 the Commission submitted to the Council a formal proposal for a Council Regulation on
denominations and technical specifications of euro coins. That proposal essentially incorporates the technical
elements suggested by the Mint Directors of the Member States whom the Council had previously briefed to
research and draw up a complete proposal for a single European coin system. As for the materials to be used to
produce euro coins, the Mint Directors’ study was based on the most recent technical expertise, from both the
economic and public-health points of view.

During its meeting on 7 July 1997 the Council gave its political agreement on the Commission proposal, subject
to possible subsequent amendment to be adopted by the Council after examining any amendments suggested by
the European Parliament at first and/or second reading. It should in fact be emphasized first that this proposal,
which is based on Article 105a of the EC Treaty, is subject to the cooperation procedure with the European
Parliament and secondly that the Regulation in question cannot be formally adopted by the Council until the
Member States adopting the euro as their single currency are known (Articles 105a and 109k of the Treaty).

The Council has meanwhile consulted the European Parliament on the proposal at first reading and is currently
awaiting its Opinion.

(98/C 102/99) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2597/97

by David Hallam (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Nickel content of euro coinage

Referring to Paragraph 4 − Choice of metal − of the introduction to the proposal for a Council Regulation
COM(97) 0247

1. What evidence is there to link nickel in coinage

(a) to the onset of hand eczema or
(b) to the persistence of hand eczema?

2. If there is any evidence, how many Europeans

(a) have developed hand eczema as a result of nickel in coinage or
(b) have a persistent hand eczema condition because of nickel in coinage?

If there is a numerical answer to 2, what is the basis of that number: is it predicted from a model? If so, is there
any documentation available?

Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission

(6 October 1997)

It is scientifically proven that nickel in objects coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin may cause
primary sensitisation of humans to nickel or elicit dermatitis in individuals already nickel-sensitised.
C 102/68 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 3. 4. 98

However, very few studies have been published concerning the possible skin effects due to nickel release from
coins. Also, there are no formal epidemiological studies available.

At the request of the Commission, the scientific committee for the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemical
compounds has considered the risk arising from handling coins containing nickel. The committee agreed that
there was no evidence to suggest that current coinage had been associated with the initiation of sensitisation. As
for people already sensitised, analysis of the very limited information available led the scientific committee to the
conclusion that very few cases of dermatitis may be caused by the release of nickel from present day coins, both
in the average consumer and in workers professionally handling coins.

Further studies appear necessary to obtain statistically significant evidence concerning the eventual role of nickel
release from coins in relation to aggravation of hand eczema.

However, it should be pointed out that the technical characteristics proposed by the Commission for the new euro
coins will reduce the percentage of nickel containing coins in circulation from a current 75% to 8% in the

(98/C 102/100) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2599/97

by Bill Miller (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Enlargement of the Union

Does the Commission agree that monies from the Structural Funds earmarked to assist Central and Eastern
European countries towards accession to the European Union are now not so urgently required because of the
results of the Amsterdam Treaty?

Answer given by Mr Van den Broek on behalf of the Commission

(29 September 1997)

The success of enlargement to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will largely depend on the preparation
of applicant countries during the pre-accession period. This effort will be mainly shouldered by the applicant
countries, but technical and financial assistance from the Union will also be necessary. In its communication
‘Agenda 2000’, the Commission proposes a reinforced pre-accession strategy, linking in an overall approach the
instruments of granting aid and the conduct of negotiations. The proposed pre-accession aid includes an annual
amount of MECU 1000 from the heading 2 of the budget for the period 2000-2006. This aid is intended, in
particular, to help bring the applicant countries' transport and environmental infrastructures up to Community
standards, and to enable the countries concerned to become familiar with structural operations. Reflecting the
fact that enlargement is an inclusive process, it will be granted to all applicant countries, irrespective of the date
when each of them will be involved in negotiations.

The Commission's proposals included in ‘Agenda 2000’ take account of the results of the Intergovernmental
conference. At the same time, it stresses that all the Community's policies must be developed and deepened in
order to build a wider and stronger Europe. Above all, the institutions and their functioning must be deepened in
good time, as foreseen by the Protocol annexed to the Treaty. The task to accomplish the necessary institutional
reforms complicates the enlargement process, but does not necessarily delay it. Meanwhile, the enlargement
timetable has a definite link with the success of the pre-accession effort. Hence, implementing the reinforced
pre-accession strategy, including its structural aid element, is as urgent as ever.